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Business denies Kyoto problems

Thursday 13 March 2003, 5:05 PM

Australian businesses have denied mining and oil companies were holding them back from a responsible position on combating climate change.

The Business Council of Australia (BCA) said most of its 105 members took a neutral stance on whether the government should ratify the Kyoto Protocol to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

A Greenpeace survey released showed most of the BCA members wanted Australia to ratify the protocol, which is designed to restrict emissions to counter global warming.

Greenpeace wrote to 97 chief executives, asking for their approach to the world climate pact.

It found a small group of companies was holding back other members.

"A small group of companies with vested interests in fossil fuels and mining are holding back the rest of the Business Council and the government, from a responsible position on climate change," Greenpeace campaigner Gareth Walton said.

But BCA greenhouse taskforce chairman Meredith Hellicar said the finding was inaccurate.

"It is not accurate at all," Ms Hellicar said.

"There is no single sector that has a unified view."

In February the BCA reversed its previous stance of opposing ratification of the protocol.

It announced its new position that members had been unable to reach a common position on the protocol, citing a lack of definitive information and divergent views.

The BCA now says it is not in a position at this time to either support or reject ratification of the protocol.

Ms Hellicar said the overwhelming majority of members did not have a stand for or against the protocol.

But Mr Walton said the majority of companies either supported ratification or had a neutral position.

Opposition environment spokesman Kelvin Thomson said the letters from the CEOs to Greenpeace showed a small section of business was acting to look after the government.

©2003 AAP

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